Castlebeck could face fines for “misleading” the Care Quality Commission about the alleged abuse of people with learning disabilities at Winterbourne View hospital, an inspection report has concluded.
The inspection report by the CQC followed the uncovering of alleged abuse at the hospital – which is now closed – by BBC Panorama at the end of May.
Amanda Sherlock, CQC director of operations, said: “We now know that the provider had effectively misled us by not keeping us informed about incidents as required by the law.
“Had we been told about all these things, we could have taken action earlier. We will now consider whether it would be appropriate to take further legal action.”
The CQC confirmed it was considering imposing fines of up to £50,000 on Castlebeck for the breaches.
It said it may also close other Castlebeck facilities in the wake of an inspection of all of its hospitals and care homes.
Yesterday, the chair of Castlebeck, Paul Brosnan, a former banker, stepped down saying the company needed someone with expertise in the sector at its head at this time.
Lee Reed, chief executive of Castlebeck, said he was truly sorry for the failings at Winterbourne View. He said: “As soon as the company was made aware of the appalling misconduct of staff at Winterbourne View, we alerted the police and other relevant authorities. We then took immediate remedial steps to safeguard the welfare of all our service users. This work is ongoing, and is our absolute priority.”
Today’s report found that the hospital was not meeting 10 of the 28 essential standards, which providers must comply with.
It had not informed the CQC of four occasions when patients had absconded from the unit, putting their health and safety at risk. It had also not reported a number of serious incidents such as physical violence between a patient and their family and an attack on one patient by another.
The CQC found a number of incidents of unsafe practice at Winterbourne View. One incident involved staff restraining a patient with a pillow case over their mouth to stop them spitting for 20 minutes, which risks asphyxiation. Another patient was restrained under a duvet for 15 minutes.
The CQC concluded there was a systemic failure to protect people or investigate potentially abusive practice.
Among the other breaches were a failure to ensure the safe use of medicines; failure to vet the qualifications of staff properly, and the absence of a mechanism to ensure complaints were listened to.
Winterbourne View was closed in June following the CQC’s investigation and decision to remove it from the register of authorised care providers.